Why are the winners holding stuffed animals instead of medals?
Shortly after the most triumphant moments of their lives, the winning Olympic athletes are holding not the medals they’ve dreamed of for years, if not decades, but stuffed animals encased in a plastic shell.
A celebratory ceremony immediately follows the end of each medal-awarding event, but the athletes don’t receive their medals until a follow-up ceremony the next day. In the first ceremony, the glowing athletes ascend the familiar three-tier platform, where Summer Olympians would have a medal placed around their necks.
triumphant /traɪ'ʌmf(ə)nt/ (成功或获胜后)欢欣鼓舞的，狂喜的very successful in a way that causes great satisfaction，举个例子：They marched triumphantly into the capital.他们怀着胜利的喜悦列队进入首都。
stuffed animals毛绒玩具encase /ɪn'keɪs/ v.把…包住; 把…围住:to cover or surround something completely，比如说：•His broken leg was encased in plaster.他骨折的腿上打着石膏。When nuclear fuel is manufactured it is encased in metal cans.核燃料生产出来后被装在金属罐中。if not decades, but stuffed animals encased in a plastic shell.【语法tips】：这里的encased...这部分是过去分词作后置定语修饰前面的stuffed animalascend /ə'send/ v.攀登；登上；If you ascend a hill or staircase, you go up it. 比如说：Mrs Clayton had to hold Lizzie's hand as they ascended the steps.拾级而上的时候克莱顿夫人不得不抓着莉齐的手。这个词汇现在也常常引申表示（使）〔职位〕上升，晋升:to move to a more important or powerful job，比如说：•The number of women decreases as you ascend the professional hierarchy.专业级别越高，女性越少。
Instead, the winners in the Beijing Olympics are handed something of a placeholder: A stuffed-animal version of Bing Dwen Dwen, the panda Olympic mascot, dressed in a shell of ice resembling a spacesuit and flanked by a golden fabric wreath of pine, bamboo and plum. All three winners, whether gold, silver or bronze, get the same souvenir, one that is barely distinguishable from those available in fan merchandise stores.
resemble /rɪ'zemb(ə)l/ v.像; 与…类似，与…相似:to look like or be similar to someone or something，比如说：He does not resemble his brother in any way.他和他兄弟一点儿都不一样。
flank v.两侧有…，位于…两侧:to be on both sides of someone or something，比如说：•Lewis entered flanked by two bodyguards.刘易斯在左右两名保镖的陪同下走了进来。The altar was flanked by two Christmas trees.圣坛两侧是两棵圣诞树。
distinguishable/dɪsˈtɪ ŋ g wɪʃəbl/ 能分辨出来的，区别得出的:easy to recognize as being different from something else，比如说：•The fake was barely distinguishable from the original painting.这幅赝品与原画几乎无法区别。
“We’ve collected quite a few things at the Olympics so far, so I have a kind of treasure of things to bring home to the family,” Isabelle Weidemann, a bronze medal winner in the women’s 3000-meter speedskating event, said of the placeholder.
Getting to hold the actual medal on Sunday, a day after her event, felt “incredibly different” from holding the stuffed panda, she said.
“It’s a lot more emotional, too,” she said.
In the second ceremony, held in a venue dedicated solely to handing out medals, the winners are paraded across a stage, as a few hundred fans cheer near the Olympic cauldron. The athletes ascend another three-tier platform before members of the International Olympic Committee hand them their medals, which they put on themselves. They are allowed to remove their masks for a moment.
venue /'venjuː/ 举办地点，举行场所，会场:a place where an organized meeting, concert etc takes place，比如说：•The band will play (=perform at) as many venues as possible.那支乐队将在尽可能多的地方演出。
dedicated/ˈdedɪˌkeɪtɪd/专用于…的;专门为…而设计制造的；You use dedicated to describe something that is made, built, or designed for one particular purpose or thing. 比如说：Such areas should also be served by dedicated cycle routes.这些区域也应该设专门的自行车道。
这个词汇也可以用来修饰人，指满腔热忱的，有奉献精神的:someone who is dedicated works very hard at what they do because they care a lot about it，举个例子：•a dedicated and thoughtful teacher一位富有敬业精神、关心学生的教师
solely /'səʊllɪ/ adv.只;仅仅;完全；If something involves solely one thing, it involves only this thing and no others. 举个例子：Too often we make decisions based solely upon what we see in the magazines.太多的时候，我们仅仅根据在杂志上面所看到的东西就作出了决定。
Arianna Fontana, who won a silver medal as part of Italy’s mixed team short-track speedskating, said on Sunday after her medal ceremony that it was nice to receive her medal with more people watching, compared to the largely empty short track stadium.